Breathing and Hinging. The key to alleviating lower back pain with Sample program included.

Updated: Feb 28


Bracing and Hinging is massively important in sports application. Especially functional fitness where there is a ton of hinging required.

As a coach, I see it all the time. A new client will come to me with nagging lower back pain that simply won't go away. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. (1) It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months. That's insane! What's also insane is that a lot of people see doctors, PT, chiropractors, and other specialists, only to leave with high medical bills and back pain that comes back shortly after treatment is complete. I've come to realize that what a lot of specialists overlook the underlying problem of why the back pain started. Most of the time, I've found that its related to how the individual breathes and how they hinge (bend) at their hips. If you don't correct the underlying problems that started the pain, then it will always just be a matter of time before it starts back up again. In this blog, I'm going to explain how I've helped alleviate my client's low back pain through proper breathing and hinging techniques. I'll then lay out a 12 week template program to help you learn how to brace and hinge properly.


(Note: Every individual is different and I do not guarantee that following this program will fix your lower back problems. This is a very general program to give you an idea what a program could possibly consist of. I am not a doctor nor am I trying to play one here on the internet. Consult your doctor or physician before starting any sort of exercise or diet protocol.)


When I get a client who says they suffer from lower back pain, the first thing I do is take a look at how they are breathing. Most people are chest breathers, which ultimately reduces the individual's ability to get oxygen throughout their body. When you pair this with their body's inability to brace or stabilize their core or mid-line, you have the perfect recipe for lower back pain. It may not happen today, or even tomorrow, but eventually improper movement and breathing will catch up with you. This does not just apply to when you are training, but how you breathe and move while performing your normal daily activities as well. So how do you correct this and avoid lower back pain?

Instead of chest breathing, individual's should work on diaphragmatic breathing which refers to breathing through the belly. This is also called bracing and it has a number of benefits such as:


1. Getting the autonomic nervous system (ANS) into a parasympathetic state (a more relaxed and alkaline state). This alone will help regulate digestion, metabolism (think weight loss), body temperature, and blood pressure.


2. Increasing mid-line stability. This is key to support your back and allowing you to tolerate not only high intensity training, but also whatever life throws at you.


3. Increasing lunge elasticity. This is ideal for getting oxygen throughout your entire body.


4. Relaxing the neck, back, and chest muscles while breathing. This helps you be more energy efficient. We don't want muscles working when they don't need to be. This is especially important for those who are trap dominant.

As you will see in the program below, there a variety of exercises and drills you can do to help you learn how to breathe and brace correctly. Along with creating proper breathing habits, this program will also help with improving hinging and building motor control patterns that will carry over into everyday life. This program is something that is almost impossible to overdue because the ultimate goal is to make this style of breathing and hinging so subconscious that you are doing it during your everyday activities, without having to think about it. I would start by performing the given workouts 2-3 times per week focusing on quality of movement over load and quantity. Again, the goal is to make these breathing patterns and hinging movements as subconscious and natural as possible.


This is a very general template and every individual is different. If you would like a personalized program to help either with your back pain or you are just interested in individualized programming shoot me an email at atoneal32@gmail.com. I'd love to connect, possibly jump on a call, and see how I can help you live your best life possible through fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle design!


Weeks 1-2

A. Crocodile Breathing: 5-8 min focusing on breathing through your stomach

B. Deadbug: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C. Banded Monster Walks: 10 each direction x3 sets; rest as needed

- front, each side, back

D. Banded Tall Kneeling Hip Extensions @3010: 15-20 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

E. Banded Glute Bridge @2010: 15-20 reps x3 sets; rest as needed


Weeks 3-4

A. Crocodile Breathing: 5-8 min focusing on breathing through your stomach

B. Banded Deadbug: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C. Banded Monster Walks: 10 each direction x3 sets; rest as needed

- front, each side, back

D. KB Goblet Style Banded Tall Kneeling Hip Extension @3010: 15-20 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

E. Barbell Glute Bridge @2010: 12-15 reps x3 sets; rest as needed


Weeks 5-6

A. Box Breathing: 4 sec inhale, 4 sec hold, 4 sec exhale, 4 sec hold: 5 min worth, all through stomach

B. Wall Deadbug: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C1. Banded Monster Walks: 10 each direction x3 sets; rest as needed

- front, each side, back

C2. KB Goblet Style Tall Kneeling Hip Extension @3010: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C3. Banded Glute Bridge @2010: 15-20 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

D. KB Sumo Deadlift @3131: 10-12 x3 sets; rest as needed


Weeks 7-8

A. Box Breathing: 4 sec inhale, 4 sec hold, 4 sec exhale, 4 sec hold: 5 min worth, all through stomach

B. Banded Overhead Deadbug: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C1. KB Goblet Style Tall Kneeling Hip Extension @3010: 8-10 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C2. Barbell Glute Bridge @2010: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C3. KB Sumo Deadlift @3131: 10-12 x3 sets; rest as needed


Weeks 9-10

A. Box Breathing: 4 sec inhale, 4 sec hold, 4 sec exhale, 4 sec hold: 5 min worth, all through stomach

B. Bottoms Up KB OH Deadbug: 10-12 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C1. Double Kettlebell Front Rack Wall Sit: 30-45 sec x3 sets; rest as needed

C2. Shoulder Elevated Glute Bridge @3010: 8-10 reps x3 sets; rest as needed

C3. Sumo Deadlift @3131: 10-12 x3 sets; rest as needed


Weeks 11-12

A1. Row 500m @ 85% aerobic effort x3 sets; rest 15 sec

A2. Double Kettlebell Front Rack Walk: 100' x3 sets; rest 2 min

B. Sumo Deadlift @3131: 8-10 x3 sets; rest as needed


1. "Back Pain Fact Sheet", NINDS, 2014. NIH Publication No. 15-5161.

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